There are numerous spices in the world, yet allspice is considered to be one of the most popular yet underestimated spice of them all! Don’t believe it? Well in this article you will have amazing enlightenment. 

What is Allspice?

But what is allspice made of? Despite the perception of it, it is not a blend of other spices/herbs!

It is a single spice that is native to the Greater Antilles (but it is believed that it was first discovered in Jamaica by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage), Central America, and Southern Mexico. However, you can find the spice being grown in a globally warm climate.

Allspice Origin

The Mayans, Tainos, and Kalinagos (Caribs) used allspice in their cooking and as an embalming agent. This spice was considered a false spice in the 1490s by some Europeans but was rapidly spreading ad incorporated in many dishes/cuisines thereafter.

The spice was first thought to be a pepper, hence, the name gave ‘pimenta’ (Portuguese origin) which is said to be the Spanish equivalent of the word ‘pimienta’ translated as ‘peppercorn’. It was in 1621 that the British gave the spice its name due to its fragrant odor and taste.

Alternate Names For Allspice

You are probably asking ‘what is allspice alternately known as?’ and ‘what does allspice taste like?’  Well, the spice is popularly known as pimento, Jamaica pepper, new spice, and pimenta where it has the taste and aroma of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and even pepper!

allspice berries in a bowl, ground allspice in a bowl on white background

Ground Vs Whole Allspice

What is ground allspice vs whole allspice? Whole allspice is shaped like small pebble berries that are dark brown and are dried before usage, whereas ground allspice is the powdered form of the berries/spice.

What Is Allspice Used For?

Allspice is used for cooking, baking and used in other forms as a tea or for seasoning. This seasoning is a good way to ‘spice’ up your pot.

In Jamaica, this is used to season their famous Jamaican Jerk Sauce, Jamaican Jerk Cauliflower. If you haven’t tried it, believe me, the taste is spectacular!

Jamaicans use it to spruce up non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages too, for example, Jamaican Sorrel,  as well as in their soups and barbecue sauces, like Vegan Pumpkin Soup.  

Allspice is not just known to be used in Jamaican cuisine but others as well. This includes Caribbean, Middle-Eastern and Latin cuisines and others.

Substitutes For Pimento

Sometimes, things happen and we run out of that special ingredient- in this case, let’s assume it’s allspice. So, with quick thinking, the question to ask would be ‘what can I use instead of allspice?’ with a follow up of ‘what ingredients are in allspice?’.

Due to the fact that allspice has a similar flavor to cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove you can substitute the missing ingredient by adding equal amounts of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground clove.

If you want a substitution for ground allspice with whole allspice then you’ll need 6-7 allspice berries for 1 teaspoon of ground allspice.

You can also ground the berries in a spice grinder for their powder form. If you don’t have the equipment then use the traditional method of crushing or grinding the berries in a mortar.

It is to be noted that the freshly ground spice is very pungent than the ground or whole allspice that isn’t fresh, hence, use moderately or a bit less in proportion to normal ground allspice.

Where Can I Buy Allspice?

This is a popular spice that can be found in your Caribbean, Asian markets, a most major supermarket, and health food stores.

The spice is grown globally in a warm climate and exported to many countries. However, in different countries, the name might differ.

I use both ground and whole allspice quite often, depending on what recipe I’m cooking. I mostly buy my allspice from local Caribbean or Latin grocery stores, but in a pinch or if I’m living somewhere without one, I’ll buy these online options:

allspice berries and powder in bowls

Benefits of Allspice

One of the key things that we all await to know is ‘what is allspice good for?’ Well, it is a good source of the following nutrients that are beneficial to our bodies: Read More.

  1. Calcium– builds strength in teeth and bones.
  2. Copper– A good source of this nutrient in your diet helps to form red blood cells along with iron, maintains healthy bones and nerves along with calcium and other nutrients, maintains blood vessels, and helps with the prevention of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
  3. Ericifolin– This antioxidant is a polyphenol, where it is currently being studied to treat prostate cancer.
  4. Eugenol– This compound gives it its spicy flavor, where it treats toothache, gastrointestinal pains, and an overall topical pain reliever that also aids indigestion.
  5. Gallic acid– This phenolic antioxidant regulates hypertension and hyperglycemia that has antiviral and anti-cancer characteristics.
  6. Iron– Prevents anemia and produces hemoglobin.
  7. Manganese– This nutrient is an enzyme activator for metabolism and other chemical processes, where it establishes the production of other enzymes. E.g. lipase and pyruvate carboxylase.
  8. Vitamin B5- This is a key nutrient that converts food substances into energy. Some examples include- protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Let’s not forget that it procreates blood cells too!
  9. Quercetin– This flavonoid reduces inflammation, hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), prevents heart disease and it has anti-cancer (kills cancer cells), brain-protective and anti-allergy properties. Currently, scientists are doing more research for this compound as it may have more useful properties.

Some other benefits include:

  • Its many antioxidants (especially eugenol) treat gas, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and bloating.
  • It’s anesthetic and analgesic properties relax the muscles.
  • Restores hormone balance during menopause, which may assist in relieving ‘hot flashes’.
  • Helps to prevent bacterial infections.

Side effects

There aren’t any proven side-effects, however, too much consumption of one substance or thing may cause a harmful reaction as well as in some cases you have persons who are allergic to allspice.

Consult your health practitioner for medical advice whenever you want to use it for any health purpose(s) BEFORE consumption.

Frequently Asked Questions

‘What are allspice berries?’– As stated earlier, it got its name in the 177th century where it is a dark brown berry that is dried and unripe coming from the tropically grown Pimenta dioica tree.

‘What does allspice smell like?’– Its aroma is similar to that of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.

‘Is allspice the same as five-spice?’- No, this is because five spice is a blend of cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, and peppercorns.

Hope this has been beneficial and like I love to say-Bon Appetit!

Similar Posts:

Other Recipes Using Pimento:

  1. Coconut Lentil Curry
  2. Sweet Potato Stew
  3. Seasoned Rice
  4. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
  5. Jamaican Rice And Pigeon Peas

overlay allspice berries in a bamboo bowl, allspice powder in a white bowl and teaspoon

If you enjoyed this post, “What is Allspice”, and would love to see more, join me on YoutubeInstagramFacebook & Twitter!

Get discounted copies of my cookbook here.

Fortunately, because of the ads on our website, readers and subscribers of Healthier Steps are sponsoring many underprivileged families. Thank you!

Also, please leave a star rating! ;-)